I wait patiently as the captain finally announces that we are ready to take off. I’m relieved that a thirty minute delay didn’t turn into a deplane, or a cancellation – although at this point I’m not sure why I’m even rushing to get home. His message floats to the top of my notification bar:
“When does your flight get here?”
“7:39pm” I reply quickly.
“Ok, I can pick you up, is it LaGuardia?”
I smile. I had been slightly distant while I was on vacation in an attempt to match his detachment that developed seemingly the moment he dropped me off at the airport eight days previously – his hug cold and emotionally removed, mine reflecting that I missed him already. A year has gone by, and the excuse I’ve used that I need to give it more time is starting to sound ridiculous even in my own head. I had spent so many nights lying awake, hoping that I might figure out the pattern or the secret answer key that would make it all make sense – the intimacy that felt so real one minute, but then disappeared the next. Why it was almost the real thing… but not quite the real thing.
It was Newark, not LaGuardia. I knew the moment I told him, he wouldn’t come through. I always knew, but some microscopic part of me held onto hope that he would.
“No it’s Newark.”
“You don’t have to, I know it’s far” I added, hoping for just something that would make me feel like I mattered more than how I constantly felt – temporary. I wanted him to want to pick me up, I didn’t want to have to ask… should I have to ask?
“Ok, probably best that I don’t then. I’ve never been to Newark Airport.”
“Ok” I respond, unable to even act like I had anything else I wanted to talk about. I think about the $120 cab fare for a 30-minute car ride and feel physically sick to my stomach.
The little speck of hope that remained in my chest quickly flickered out. The list of disappointments, feelings of being shorted, and anger that I had repressed deep down began to rise up into my throat. I closed my eyes, allowing the slow movement of the plane leaving the gate to calm me. I suppressed it, and added the conversation to the part of my brain that logged these types of things that I wish didn’t exist.
I get into my head, thinking about all of the times that I had come through for him. The endless support, sacrificing my own feelings to be understanding of his, spending money so that he didn’t have to when I knew he didn’t have it; accepting that he struggled with commitment, showing compassion that he was at a crossroad in his life and giving him the time he needed.
I was trying as hard as I possibly could for him to see me the way I saw him. To love me the way I loved him.
A guy may care for you. He may give you moments where you feel happy and content, but he may also give you moments where you feel so far away from yourself and what you need to feel fulfilled in a relationship. You can’t build a happy relationship from this. It isn’t love.
Love is all consuming, it does not leave you feeling unimportant, unappreciated, and unloved. You will not question if you are being used, you will not have to ask them to be there for you. You will not have to feel bad about yourself for caring so much, or weak for giving your love.
The moment you accept that you are ‘ok’ with a lesser version of love even when the voice inside your head is screaming that this isn’t right – that is the moment when you stop respecting yourself. You are with someone who is looking at you, and treating you as a ‘for now’ option.
The plane gradually began to catch speed, before reaching the end of the runway rising effortlessly. I watched out the window as the high peaks of the Rockies stretched across Idaho. Flying always made me feel free, something that I was struggling to feel lately. I knew when I got back things would need to change, and I would make sure that they did.
I had waited for things to change, hoping that he would love me enough to let me go, or stop torturing me with the semblance of a happy relationship. I closed my eyes, knowing that I deserved more and that the only person who loves me enough to make that happen… is me.